#664. Monday Post (6 Nov 2017) – Software again

By Paul Perton | Monday Post

Nov 06


Short of an assortment of screen grabs, there’s not much to see of all these software solutions. Meanwhile, out in the garage, AndyLandy is halfway loaded for a trip into the bush, starting on Thursday. So, to make the post a bit more interesting, I’m priming us all (including me) with some recent images shot in South Africa and Botswana. More soon 😉


The software susurration seems to have died down a bit of late, here at DearSusan. But, don’t be fooled, Mike Johnston over at The Online Photographer has taken up the cudgel and is now debating one of our favourite subjects with his significantly larger audience.


The comments on Mike’s post tell the same tale we’ve all related; in essence, Adobe has got this all wrong and their world is prepping to move on. With Photoshop alternatives coming out of the woodwork, the global post processing environment is likewise filling up and it won’t be long before the migration will likely go from a small and barely perceptible leak to a measurable flow.


This against a backdrop of announcements from On1, whose RAW product is nearing a significant (paid) upgrade. Personally, I’d be a bit more enthusiastic about On1RAW if it were more stable and supported with a tad less car salesman-style hype.






A few days earlier Luminar’s developer Macphun announced both a corporate re-naming and a completely overhauled flagship product. Henceforth, the company will be known as Skylum and the new release of Luminar will ship in direct competition to Lightroom, albeit without its file browser/DRM functionality, which is due later in the New Year. Like many users, I like Luminar, but at the moment, find it agonisingly slow and difficult to use without a browser/film strip.


Much vaguely anticipated, Apple’s free Photos app has also had a make over and while its functionality has been enhanced, it’s still far from a workable solution for most of us. Round tripping into any other app for real post processing is still a PITA and the absence of sorting and any kind of star rating is a bewildering omission for many. I suspect that Apple believes adding these (critical for some) features will a) move it too far from its intended casual phone snapper target market and b) shift expectation that the company will deliver an Aperture replacement after all.


Either way, Photos can be used a repository for images edited elsewhere. Sort of.





UK-based Affinity are promising a post processing solution, due probably in 2018, although details are hard to find at present. Doubtless, it’ll use all, or most of the feature set of their well-liked existing Photoshop replacement, Affinity Photo. Expect to hear more soon.


Then there’s Pixelmator’s Pro release, also due soon. Slated this fall and possessed of a completely re-imagined workflow, I’m keen to see what it’s really like. I’ve used Pixelmator as a Photoshop replacement and found that it does exactly what it says on the tin, so hopefully, the software engine in this release will deliver a similar performance along with a crisp, logical interface.






Finally (this time around, anyway), there’s Patrick la Roque’s workflow, detailed in his End of Hegemony post. At first, it’s quite a complex solution, but if you’ve had experience with more than one post processing application and find yourself torn between them and the promise of what might be coming down the ‘pike, this might be worth exploring.



It took me a couple of hours to work through, test some of the ideas and decide that some modification was necessary. This was largely because I didn’t want to use Lightroom or any kind of cloud storage. As I write, I still haven’t made a start on implementation, wanting to see what the promised software releases discussed above might bring.


Meanwhile, it’s been announced that the Nik Collection has been acquired by DxO, who are promising a completely new version in 2018. As it will have to be 64-bit compliant to work on the Mac, hopefully, it’ll also work with at least one of the software choices we are soon to be offered.


Here’s hoping.

  • John Wilson says:

    Last Monday was our monthly Western Print Group meeting and one of our members invited a couple of guests he’s familiar with to join us … none other than the Canadian distributor for Phase1 and Capture1 as well as being a couple of very fine photographers and good people. We got a little bit of exposure to the new Trichromatic back but my friend Bob and I wrangled an invitation to the Wed. evening seminar and demo. Bob is a long time Capture1 user but I’ve never been exposed to it other than listening to Bob and reading about it on The Luminous Landscape. I’m Impressed! Its not perfect, but it has most of the things I use in Lightroom and CS. I still have my standalone copy of CS5 which still works just fine (and I have yet to fully master) plus DXO Pro10 for the Nikon1 files and Iridient for the Fuji stuff (DXO is abysmally slow to export and Iridient is abysmally slow to load). My head is definitely leaning in the direction of Capture1 – can do everything I need DXO and Iridient for and most of what I do in Lightroom and CS5. Though I’m not looking forward to the transition, I refuse to sign on to Adobe’s “hurt me monthly” program. LR and CS are now sentenced to death by neglect. Cap1 and the others will continue to evolve … for a while … at least … I think …

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      I would like to develop that last thought of yours, John. Years ago, we hungrily greeted new versions of this kind of software – but as it’s become more sophisticated, it’s also begun to reach a point where further improvements simply aren’t “interesting”.
      You mention that “DxO is abysmally slow to export” – so is LightRoom (at least, the version I have is) and it’s also painfully slow to open, and flaky when I DO export anything to it. If I export 10 files, I could practically guarantee that some wouldn’t make it to LR, and I’d end up with the files all out of sequence.
      One of LR’s promotional claims is that you can use it to catalogue all your photos – maybe some people can, but that side of it is useless to me, because I have my own system in place already.
      I’ve never found a way to complete post processing in LR, not with any of the photos. And what I have found, is that migrating images from one system to another is impractical, in this sense – all these programs might very well be working on one monitor, one screen, and in theory should have the same colours. But in practice, pretty much all of these post processing software programs throws the image up on screen with their own unique colour gamut. So I really don’t appreciate the idea of flicking shots through too many different software systems, no matter HOW good they are. Doing most of the post processing in Capture One, with a couple of specific functions in other software, has given me a really great reduction in post processing times

      • John Wilson says:

        Jean Pierre – I’ve always found it interesting and baffling that people can get such very different operating experiences/results with the same software/hardware. Bob is having all sorts of problems with Lightroom. I’ve never had any – opens fine and exports “fast enough”; its just going to slowly get older and out of step. Iridient I use solely to export Fuji RAW files to a TIF. Everything else is done in CS/LR/NIK. DXO I use the same way for the Nikon V3 files – it does the best job and the PRINE noise reduction works really well. Like you, I don’t care much about the LR catalogue; I have my own system which works fine for me. In the printing department, I use a Canon Pro10 printer with my Mac and a Cinema display. I’ve NEVER profiled or calibrate ANYTHING and the prints are just perfect. Who know … maybe the experience with Cap1 will be more “mainstream”/”normal”.

    • Adrian says:

      I assume you know as a Sony user you can get C1 Express for free, and the full “Pro” version for around $50.

      I used version 8 pro but with Windows 10 I had terrible trouble with stability and the many crashes caused lost work and even a catalogue corruption. The Phase One support was of no use at all, and in the end I stopped using it and migrated to other tools I already had been using.

      I’ve worked in IT all my career, but found the 2 huge issues with C1 were the catalogue system and the export controls, both of which were mostly unfathomable. Sessions were also almost impossible to understand, and the Phase One support / education materials gave no meaningful explanation of how they worked that I could find.

      The C1 image quality was notably better than Adobe (not saying much), but the user interface and usability in some areas left a lot to be desired.

      I tried a DXO trial on a modern Windows 10 ultrabook and gave up on it when it basically bricked my machine trying to render a thumbnail preview of every raw file in a folder – a truly stupid piece of design. A quick edit revealed results that looked worse than other tools I already use, so I wasn’t something I persisted with.

      All the other new raw development and editing tools seem to have glaring omissions, even quite basic features like a grid or a rotation tool or showing clipping, and seem good at some things but really quite poor at others. Since Adobe’s ritualistic self-abuse of shooting off their own foot with a pay-per-view charging model, there have been plenty of new entrants into the market, but in a declining market where consumer camera sales have fallen off a cliff they strangely seem to focus on the Camera Phone App like user experience of silly filter effects and pre-sets, which seems strange when the least affected part of the market is the expensive camera enthusiast end.

  • Fabrizio Giudici says:

    Probably I’m looking at the problem with an eye which is too much on the technologist-idealist side… but the status of the photography, with respect to the software, is highly problematic. I mean: La Roques is a real photographer and can plan his workflow around real needs. I don’t have real needs and thus I’m probably looking too high.

    But with the raw formats I hoped I could be able to have a single set of master documents – the raw files, indeed – without archiving processed copies. Given that there is no portability among different raw processors, this meant that one should have been able to live forever with a single application. Unfortunately, this equates to “vendor lock in” and sooner or later the moment that you have to abandon a manufacturer comes. For me it has come as soon as Adobe – as predicted – decided not to provide any longer perpetual licenses.

    Second point by La Roque: you should not be forced to use a single application, and the DAM and raw-processing set of features are two different things, so it makes sense. True – even though while I reckon that raw-processing requires a very high expertise (in optics, mathematics, etc…) DAM doesn’t. It’s almost a straightforward thing. It strikes me hard the fact that there are not at least four or five excellent DAM applications on the market.

    Furthermore, the integration (“back and forth”, as La Roque says) is not so simple (even in this case: hell, it should be, but facts are that it isn’t). At the moment my provisional, post-LR workflow is LR + C1. LR for DAM (while evaluating alternatives) and C1 for raw processing. It would be possibile to have two-way sync for metadata – which is sort of required e.g. when you look at the finished image in C1 and you give it stars. Too bad that C1 does strange things with hierarchical keywords (it does keep the hierarchy, but it adds the various levels as “flattened” keywords) and this destroys my DAM design. So I can’t assign keywords from C1 and I have to go on at the same time with both applications, keeping the same image selected, when I have to assign stars…

    • Per Kylberg says:

      You can easily import the LR catalog to especially to ACDSee Viewer maintaining all metadata. LR can be “imported” to C1 too, but looses some meta data.

  • Georg says:

    One thing is for sure, that being that there’s a lot of new developments in this arena. In the big picture a choice of software revolves around 2 questions. The first being workflow and second being artistic intent. With respect to workflow, which includes RAW conversion, there are many new options to LR. Capture One is ahead of the pack (including LR), and IMO is outstanding. The worth of the others, such as DXO, ON1, Photo Ninja, Topaz, Macphun (all which seem to have some good points) will hinge on their future efforts to develop their products. All will “do the job” now, the question being how comfortable one becomes with them. As far as artistic applications are concerned DXO/NIK & Topaz offer many presets which can be useful as starting points, especially for B&W applications. ON1 has just launched new platforms and unfortunately most of their B&W presets can not be converted (a licensing issue). However, if one is very familiar and comfortable with PS, it is still the King. Things like LAB Color space, excellent layer/masking and its many filters are either not available or less effective in other programs. The bottom line is to make separate decisions. One for RAW conversion (where fidelity is key) and the other with regard to artistic application (where workflow is open ended and many programs can be considered). For many photographers my guess is that most artistic decisions are made “in camera” and RAW conversion is most important. Experimenting in the second area becomes a question of having the extra time to explore. That can take a lifetime.

  • pascaljappy says:

    Oh the panos, Paul !!! Brilliant set of photos. And the twin lions ? Brilliant again.

    Software. Less so. It seems that the market is driven by the perception that Adobe is about to fall. This is flawed in two ways. First of which is that giants die slow. LR and PS will be strong for the years to come, even as they lose popularity. A similar fate to Canikon’s, presumably. Secondly, as pointed out in a recent article, there’s a hierarchy of needs that’s totally ignored by the newcomers. It seems that in their rush to crush the king, feeling its faltering positioning, they have refused to think about positioning at all. So they’re all doing the same thing. Instead of complementing one another, they are facing one another AND the incumbent head-on. There’s gonna be a lot of damage.

    On a personal whine, can I once more lament that while the number of competing presets is growing exponentially, we’re still no closer to having a good stitching program outside of LR / PS … Yes, autopano works brilliantly, but it doesn’t integrate with any of the toos we use. How can that NOT be on the contender’s radars? Do they even have a radar?

    Did I mention how great those pics are? Thanks for sharing.

    • Per Kylberg says:

      I believe many programs can be started from LR Library and ACDSee Viewer as well as from C1. Anther thing is if the result automatically is read back into the database. Affinity claims to have stitch and focus stacking.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Hi Per, I’ve tried Affinity and it has a very crude stitching feature. Sometimes all is fine; sometimes, the perspective is ridiculous. I’m sure it’s only a start and they’ll gradually improve on it. Capture One can launch several other programs but it’s just sending the file to them and there’s no return. In an ideal world, you’d be able to select a few files from within C1 (or other software), send them to the stitching program and get the pano back automatically in C1 to edit the result. But that ideal and it’s quite different from real life (which is a fiddly export to TIFF and then stitch in autopano and then reimport the stitched TIFF into C1. Files get huge. But that’s life 😉

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    Love the photos, all of them. But, my favorite has to be the ornamental grass in silhouette against the sky.
    As for PP software and workflow: I’m still using CS5 and have no intention of changing before I have to (purchase of a D850 might do it since I won’t be able to open my RAW images in CS5). I download from my camera to my desktop where I create a dated and titled folder for storage. I immediately backup that folder on my external hard drive. After I finish workings with the images in that folder I transfer individual “keeper” images to dated and titled permanent folders containing that type of image. Then I update the original work folder to my external backup drive so that it includes the processed “keepers” as well as all the others. Next, I backup the folder containing the “keepers” only. Now, I have everything labeled and backed up and I can delete the work folders from my desktop.
    Any time I want to peek in the original work folder to see what else might be there that I can use all I have to do is go to my external hard drive. Any time I have an order to fill from my website all I have to do is go to my “keepers” folder which is dated and titled by subject and pull that image up.
    Needless to say, I’m not concerned about being overwhelmed by orders so this system works very well for me. I don’t want Cloud storage and I don’t want rented software on my iMac. I do know that the only thing that never changes is that everything always changes. I just don’t know which way I’m going to go next. At my age it might be a mute point.

  • Per Kylberg says:

    Yes, there are many options out there, capable to produce top class post processing (depending on the driver).
    Few offers “everything one might need” in one package except Adobe. -Which you still can use sans cloud. Keeping in mind costs for other photo gear, cost differences are negliable.
    Pick the one you like best to work with! It is about three base components:
    Data management, RAW editing (no destructive), Bitmap editing. In my case also a printing code (Qimage). Three different suppliers are fully possible!
    One thing never discussed is computer hardware. It develops quickly as does programs. It is a symbiotic development where possibilities provided be better harware is quickly utilised by program developers – and vice versa. A new program on an old computer – will be slow. An old program on a new computer will be slow too as the old software does not utilise available new performance.
    As an example: Import and preview creation of 40 A7R2 images takes less than 15 sec on my new computer. (I5 3.8ghz, 32gbRAM, 8gb ddr5 – nice but not top of the line).
    As always a computer need its maintenance and optimization on a regular basis in order to stay sharp.

  • David A. Mack says:

    As always, I enjoy reading your erudite comments. I’ve only been doing photography for 7 years, but have worked at it constantly with commitment. Coming from a medical field, I’ve struggled with the “Art” portion and learning PS. LR has worked very well for me and PS helps be edit the junk out of a landscape or other needs. At age 72, the memory is slower, more impaired and its almost incomprehensible to think of learning a whole new program. But, I keep looking for a program with will render my photos more sharply and with great colors. Colorite aside, when I look at Phase One images, I drool. I constantly struggle between figuring out if my sub-optimal images are due to pixil deficiency, sensor issues, lens quality, or technique; mostly deciding that it must be technique, but I keep hoping more MP will make my photos more beautiful. Then of course, there is the temptation to get Capture One 10 etc, hoping it will help make my images look like Phase One, NOT. Subconsciously, I guess I keep hoping I can buy a better image with better cameras, lenses and software. The reality is that I agree that Adobe will be around for a long time, especially since we ancients are not really inclined to take on a whole new program, just because we are frustrated with Adobe. We’ll just grin an bear it so to speak, but remain suspicious and figure out ways to store and protect our images outside of Adobe. So the challenge goes on, but until a really great software comes along, It Adobe PS and LR for me. There will be carnage in the market place and all of those “me too” software programs will die, and a lot of folks are going to be left without a chair to sit on when the music stops.

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